Releasing the past in order to find myself

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I think you suck

I received an email today from my recently distant sister.  It is conveniently timed.  It is not a coincidence that NM left two days ago, and I received this email today.  Towards the end, NSis asks that I "respect" her and not speak to either of my parents about her as it makes them "uncomfortable".  This is pure bullshit, as I have not spoken to either of my parents about NSis in months and specifically told both of them I wouldn't be speaking about her.  So, I'd be curious to know what kind of conversation went on between NSis and NM about her visit.

I wrote NSis an email in response to our recent falling out in November.  I've only vaguely heard from her since then, and her response to me email was to say that she had nothing to say.  That I had stunned her so much that she was at a loss for words.

Today, NSis was textbook narc in her response.  She was calm and calculated in her word choices.  She remained emotionally distant and detached.  She barely hid her anger and rage at me.  She blamed me, guilted me, and shifted responsibility.  She feigned shock at my behavior and implied that I am somehow responsible for out latest dust up.  She projected her anger and rage onto me and gas lighted me at every turn.  She blamed me for her lack of interest in me and claimed I was personalizing her life too much.

She expressed that she felt she had always been supportive and there for me (although not in such a direct way) and implied I'd somehow failed as a sister during her recent "medical crisis" (otherwise known as the illness that will not be named by her).  She took low blows and hinted at all the ways she felt me to be lesser than what she expects from her sister.

She also professed how far she's come (in two months), how much she's changed (in two months), and how she now has great relationships (that she hasn't had in years) with my parents.  Because she's awesome.

And I'm not.  And it's the same old song and dance.  It surprised me not at all.  It was exactly what I expected of her, and that made me sad.  I knew what I was going to get from her but I had so much wanted to be wrong.

Monday, February 18, 2013


NM came for a visit over the weekend.  I knew she was coming well in advance and I had done my best to prepare for it.

I'll first say that it wasn't that bad.  It actually was better than it has been in the past.  She was mostly well-behaved.  In fact, she has been obviously trying to watch herself.   I'm sure this has something to do with my recent stalemate with NSis but I don't really care to figure out why.  And I'm sure not deluding myself into believing she's changed.

And in an attempt to be completely honest with myself, I've been working on viewing things in their totality.  I was struggling with some serious cognitive dissonance about my childhood and my relationship with NM.  She wasn't and isn't all bad.  She can be kind and thoughtful.  She can be helpful.  She knows me well enough to know how to do things with my kids and in my home, and that is helpful.  Not all of my childhood was horrible.   I need to acknowledge this because I was tired of seeing everything through such a negative filter.  This good stuff, by NO MEANS "balances" out the negative.  Really, there is no way to balance negative.  Negative behavior lives in a category all its own, and can not be "made up for" by later being nice.  Negative behavior needs to be accounted for and repented for in order to go away.  But it's not helpful for me to only see the negative.  And frankly, I don't want to remember my childhood as a soul-sucking horror trip, because it wasn't always.  NM is a narcissist  but she's kind of a pathetic sad one.  So, I'll say the trip wasn't all bad.  That she was pleasant.  She was actually very good with the kids.  She was patient and kind with them (except for one incident I'll talk about).  She can maintain good behavior for periods of time.   She was extra kind to my husband (mostly like in an effort to score "nice" points).  She also watched my kids for three hours so DH and I could go to dinner.  I know, I know.  Some of you will not like that.  But, as I've said, she can watch herself and behave for a few hours.  And actually, she is kinder to my kids when I'm not around.  When I'm around she spends a lot of time and energy on the image of "grandma" she wants to project to me.  She wants to like kind but firm with them and "prove" to me that she can maintain my rules and such.  So, when I'm not around she relaxes a bit.

Beyond that, NM is just exhausting to me.  I never feel like I can relax around her.  She is watching me constantly.  Or my husband.  Or my kids.  Watching what we do, how we eat, what we say to each other.  She's watching how my husband and I interact, who does what with the kids.  I feel like a zoo exhibit.  Her hearing is unbelievable, and she often strains to hear every conversation my husband and I have.  Even if we are go to another room and talk lowly, she asks what's going on.  She will not allow for any private interactions.  Lot's of times she'll say "WHAT?  I mean, it's not any of business but what is going on?"  Often it's not a something of importance or worth, just typical conversation but something that doesn't involve her.  But she's suspicious.  And untrusting.  She always thinks we are talking about her.  And if we leave the room, she gets really worked up about it, whispers "WHAT is going ON?"  all nervous like.  She complains before that if DH and I discuss something in front of her (and to clarify, we are not ever yelling or mad.  We may just have a more passionate discussion.  It is not a fight, just excitement) she says it upsets her.  Because her parents used to fight.

And so, with all her watching, I feel like I can't be cranky or tired or whatever.  Just even tempered and level all the time.  If I don't, she seems to amplify how I'm feeling.  She takes what I'm feeling and responds to me like I'm acting in a way that's 10 times worse.  Maybe I'm not explaining this right.  But she always makes me feel like I'm having some emotional breakdown if I am not perfectly, emotionally, even keel.

And I do get anxiety when she comes.  I feel like I'm juggling a dozen balls in the air.  Trying to watch the kids, coordinate meals, talk with her, give the kids each time.  Pack and unpack the kids from all the activities we go and do, because no way in hell am I going to just sit around my house with her.  So I'm tired, and the kids are tired, and the kids get cranky, and I have to reinforce some boundaries with them, which they are testing because someone new is in the house.  But I know NM is watching and observing and I'll have to do it in a way that doesn't catch her notice.  Because NM will be reporting to everyone too.  She'll tell NSis "Oh, Jessie looked thing.  She was stressed.  She told (son) something and he yelled at her!  She...."and on and on.  I'm trying not to care, because I will never be perfect enough to not get gossiped about.  Because she loves to gossip.

Most of NM and I's conversations revolved around gossip.  She is a grade A gossiper (I mean, loving concerned person) who told me some bitch fest about everyone she knows.  And I'll be honest, I fall into the trap too at times.  I don't know how to always work around it.   And it's easier.  And sometimes I'd really like to be discussing the people I tell her about, like get some motherly advice.  But the only ways she really listens is if it's told in a gossipy manner.  So, I'm sitting there bitching too.  And then she makes me feel bad for that, gives me some moral high ground line of bullshit.  So, I get a bit more tired.  And everyone is against her.  Everyone is treating her badly.  She's not really interested in a discussion.  She wants to vent.  When I vent back, she changes the subject or offers some pat answer.  She thinks she's helping me to be more positive.  She is a master at projection.  I often don't feel myself at all because she sees me in such a skewed light, that there is no room for the real me.  No matter what I am or how I act, she only sees the image of me she wants to.  And although I know my reality, all she sees is a sad, anxious, stressed out mom and wife.  She doesn't see the fun, easy, mom I can be.  There really is no room for me to be.  Because she plays and has fun and the kids bounce all over her and want to be with her, I'm left to pack and unpack, and make dinners and organize kids and reinforce boundaries and be the 'bad guy' making everyone go to bed.  I don't know how I always get pushed into being some task driving ass whenever she's around.

I try to talk about other things or myself.  But when I do, she turns to her Ipad or cellphone or just stares off.  She doesn't ask about the things I really like to do.  She talks to me a lot about how much I deserve a brake and how hard I work.  She's always coaching my son to "go give your mom a hug.  It will make her feel better."  "Remember, I told you that it's nice to tell your mom you love her."  "Look, you hurt your mom's feelings, you broke her heart."  That one kills me.  And it's a damn subtle trick.  Because she's believes she's defending me and teaching my son to respect me.  And it sucks to see, because I know that's how she thinks.  It's not a direct message to me (I just don't think she's that clever), but it's clearly meant to define motherhood for her.   So, I counter her and clearly point out to her and my son, that he never owes me anything.  That he is a sweet boy and very thoughtful of me, and doesn't need to be told when to do that.  And that he doesn't have to express love except when he wants to.

She pulled this stupid shit too with him while hiding it behind "teaching him".  My son is a preschool and still has some words he miss-pronounces.  (And coincidentally, she is self-conscious about how she pronounces things)  So, she corrects him.  And then corrects him again and again.  But she's not teaching him, she's making him uncomfortable.  She makes him self-conscious.   I watch this for awhile and can't stand it, but I'm stuck not knowing what to do.  That night, I got angry with myself.  I'm sure as hell not going to let her make my kid feel bad.  And so the next day I tell her to knock it off.  In front of my son.  And it sucked.  But I didn't feel guilty about it or overly anxious.

My mother wants to feel she's an expert in something.  So she likes to talk about her latest research.  She wants to be the one with knowledge of a topic, with me eager to hear what she has to say.  This rarely happens, and it frustrates her.  But I don't consider her an expert on most things.  This time it was a new health regimen she is doing that she was insisting I try.  She kept bringing up the medicines.  She tired to get me to try it.  Kept telling me this homeopathic stuff would work.  Well, I believe this stuff has a place, but I am not interested in trying any of NM's latest whims.  She won't leave it a lone.  When I finally voice my opinion, she literally talked over the top of me.  I would start in, and when she was finished with my sentence, she'd just cut in and start talking.  Most times, she didn't hear what I had to say at all.  This isn't unusual.  You can see NM working out her next diatribe as your talking.  You know she hasn't heard a thing.  Often, she asks me later the same question.  And during her spiels about this or that new fade she's doing, she rarely hears me at all.

NM likes to talk.  She likes to be in charge of a conversation.  She likes to direct it.  She only likes to talk about what she's interested in.  It's tiring.  She follows me into by bedroom when I try to get a moment a lone.  She is very private and bitches about people invading her private space, but does it to me no problem. And talks about how she has a good relationship with her daughters and doesn't worry about us being in her space.  But that works both ways.  She is suspicious.  She snoops.  She checks things out she shouldn't.  And she HATES when people do it to her.  And she assumes most other people do snoop.  She attributes much bigger meaning to people's behavior than is there.  Something I often worry about myself doing, as I can see how she often over reacts to things that may not be aggressive towards her.  She thinks people are out to get her.  She never looks at how she could remedy the problem.  For example, she was angry at my step brother for not reaching out to her and being willing to do her a favor.  But she said she shouldn't have to approach him.  She has the attitude of "well, he didn't reach out to me, why should I reach out to him"  except it's not clear why the other person always needs to reach out first.    If my husband and I do get cross at each other, she acts like we might get a divorce.  If I have a headache, she stresses about it, worrying if I should go to the emergency room.  Man, she wears me out.

She brought up NSis frequently.  Sometimes, it was just because NSis was important to the conversation.  But mostly, it was to see my reaction.  She baited me and baited me and baited me.  She wanted to go home and tell NSis I asked about her.  I acted stupid every time she brought it up.  Tried to just go blank.  She didn't let on how NSis is doing (NSis has had some pretty big changes I believe in her life lately) but just dropped NSis's name casually.

When she left today, it seemed the frequency in our house came down five levels.  I'm sure some of it was just my kids being excited by someone new.  And my mother is actually quiet and relatively mellow.  She just emits this crazy intensity under neath that.  She can be really calm and even keel.  She likes that she's the quiet stoic type.  I was telling her how my younger son is really even-tempered, until he gets angry and then he gets really mad (but he's two!).  She started pointing her finger back at herself (and making this face that I particularly loathe.  Kind of like her best impression of herself as some sort of Clint Eastwood type. ).  She LOVES to tell people about how she's the quiet strong type.  You know, good old farm stock.  Stoic, faithful, hardworking.  That's NM...or so she thinks.  And you know, while she's got herself pegged as some hardened cowboy, she's cast me as the roll of damsel in distress.

As I usual do when she leaves, I felt relieved.  I do not feel sorrow when she leaves.  I cried a bit today for the sadness of it.  It sucks that I really don't enjoy my mother as a person at all.  It sucks that when she leaves I'm glad.  Not a little glad, but completely glad.   It sucks watching my children love her so much.  And I hate myself for feeling like that.  I don't want them to feel towards someone how I feel.  And I don't hate her.  I really don't feel much for her.  I recently told my DH she feels like my very much older sister, not my mother.  I am really, really tired.

But I'm not angry.  I'm not bitter at her.  And that's progress.  She doesn't stir up the huge feelings of depression and anxiety that she used to.  I kind of white-knuckled it, but I held myself together with the tools I've learned in this past year.  I didn't let her get to me, but I didn't have to surround myself with barbwire while she was here.  I allowed myself to be sad about what it is.  That's progress too.  It feels like a small amount of progress, and I wish I was much further along, but this will take time and work.  I protected my kids and my husband but didn't always feel I had to control every interaction they had with NM.  I could protect them without always being on guard.

But I'm very, very tired.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

My Wedding Story

I've gone back and forth about writing this.  Part of me feels like it would be rehashing old crap.  And in the end, I really enjoyed my wedding, so it's not like I have anger to process about it.  But looking back with adjusted hindsight, I see things so much differently.  It truly was a road marker in so many things in my life.  My relationship with my mother changed.  My relationship with my MIL changed.  My husband and I began some of the hardest work of our marriage at this time due to the insanity that surrounded our big day.  That work continues today, but is amazingly easier now due to our new found knowledge.
But it's a story I want to share, and really one that is a beautiful example of how the narcs can make a big day all about them.  Here are the key players and how the contributed to our wedding:

"Friend"-  This person was one of DH's oldest and "dearest" friends.  He had hated me from the beginning.  I always had thought he was an ass.  I mean the guy was flat out rude to me.  But looking back, he is the one the biggest narcs I've ever met.  He hated me because he blamed me for DH no longer wanting to travel the world after college with him.  They'd had big plans and had talked of doing all kinds of things.  But when I came onto the scene, all that changed.  And "Friend" was angry.  He was rude and flippant, masking it by being claiming things as "jokes".  Fortunately, he graduated shortly after I met DH and took off, so I didn't have to deal with him much.  Except when he came to our wedding.  The conflict between me and "friend" was tearing DH up.  And I knew what would happen.  "Friend" showed up and hooked up with my sister (NSis).  Awesome.  And not only did the hook up, but it became a huge scene as my sister (who was an adult and really didn't need this type of supervision) was chased all over the resort at night by my mother.  NSis would stay out late drinking, NM would go looking for here because NSis was staying in her room.  My mother hauled my sister out of a room in front of all of my friends.  It was awesome.  "Friend" thought it was funny.

DH's friends.  Many of these people also didn't like me when I met DH.  The told me later that they had expect me to "prove" myself worthy of DH (yes. prove my self worthy) by being put through a "gauntlet" (their words) of "tests".  Seriously, WTF?  I chalk this up to insecurity and also to being the first serious "girlfriend" any of them had.  My relationship with DH threatened their party boy ways and they knew it.this didn't excuse them being complete jerks.  I refused to put up with their bullshit.  But I didn't punch them in the face either, which I probably should've done at the time.  Just kidding.  Most of them had come around by the time we got married (and lots I really cared for) but a couple of stong holds decided to do a couple of fucked up things.  Not big things, just things to cause drama, which really didn't help at the time.

NSis- As said above, she created lots of drama, running around and not being a grown up and communicating with my mother.  But, at the time, I was just relieved that she wasn't embarrasing me more.  NSis has the propensity to go off shift, especially when drinking.  I worried about her fighting with me, or being a bitch to my friends.  Or generally causing a scene.  So, that she mostly behaved worked for me at the time.  Sure, she flipped out on me for plucking her eyebrows.  She had asked me to and became enraged that it hurt and that I'd fucked up her one eyebrow and refused to let me do the other.  She pouted on occasion.  She fulfilled her "basic" maid-of-honor duties, but really be helpful, nope.  But I was always worried she'd get upset.

NM-  NM, sigh.  NM started with me the minute I called to tell her I was engaged.  She freaked out.  And not in a good way.  She started yelping about how she had just been upset last week that she was turning 50.  And that she was having a hard time and she couldn't deal with a daughter getting married (I was not particularly young by the way).  She threw the phone at my step-father and refused to talk to me.  No congratulations or I'm happy for you.
But then, in true narc form, she turned a corner and took over.  She was overbearing and intrusive, but I knew all mother's of the bride were.  The costs of the wedding were being split amongst me and DH and then our three sets of parents would contribute a set smaller amount of equal value for each.  But NM wanted to run the show.  I made a lot of my own decisions, but NM had to find something to stamp of her's on everything.  She insisted I wear white gloves with my dress.  She bought things for the reception without asking.  But, hey,  she was getting me things, so I had no right to complain, in her eyes.  If I did disagree with her she'd blame it on my lingering anger over my parents divorce.  I know we had quite a few heated arguments   But I decided which elements I cared most about and let her have the little things.  So, she designs these favors for the tables and reception decorations.  All on her own.  And then, the day of the wedding, she complains to me that SHE had to put up all these decorations by herself (I had a caterer to run things for me the day of the event...oh, we had the wedding at the place where I worked, so the staff were all my friends and took extra good care of me.)  But NM complained that while "everyone" was off getting ready, SHE was slaving away decorating.  She complained that she hadn't had "any" time to get ready.  She complained that she didn't have enough say in things.  She complained I didn't let her help and then complained that she had to do something.  It went on and on.  When I asked her how my makeup looked the day of the ceremony, she insisted on "fixing" my eyes for me.  My eyes didn't need fixing and she really just put on an act.  She had lots of complaints the next day about things.  She was loads of fun.

NMIL-  Before the wedding, NMIL was, plainly, a pain in the ass.  Back then, she had far fewer reservations about steam rolling me. She had an opinion, and not a tactful opinion, about almost everything.  She hated my headpiece (she liked the wedding cake one she wanted for me).  She wanted the wedding to be at Christmas (I figure either because it is when she also got married, or because she didn't like that we were living "in sin".)  She really pushed for that one.  She pushed the type of jewelry that she would prefer I wear.  She pushed for me to allow her to make my wedding flowers from fake flowers.  Because she knew someone and they had recently showed her and her friend said that it would be cheaper....blah, blah.  All I knew is that this woman has not a crafty finger in her body.  I finally let her make the throw away bouquet.  Thank god I got to throw it away.  It was horrendous.  Because my SIL and BIL were also getting married, she really pushed for us to allow her to throw a big "extra" reception in her town.  She insisted she'd throw us  this big reception, pushed the idea on me and SIL repeatedly.  She tried to sway me with "you can wear your dress again!"  But I knew that if we had a second reception (one I'd have to share with SIL and have no say so in) no one would travel to my wedding.  That, in the end, it would only be my family and friends at our wedding.  I said no.  This did not go over well.  Then, she wanted to invite everyone in the damn county. As it was, DH's guests outnumbered mine 3 to 1.  She threw a tissy fit when I cut all of her church friends.  We just could not accommodate more guests.  She wanted to tack one of our invitations in the church hallway (she thought I was just being cheap and not wanting to order more invitations).  I stuck my ground but she stated that in her town everyone is invited (I tried to explain that at this resort, you get one set amount of people).  I also refused her insistence of having a shower in her town (because it would've been ONLY her friends and some family).  She pushed that I do my wedding registry at a place that her mother (but not most of the other guests) would be able to shop.  She pushed that I at least get my dishes from there because that is what her mother wanted to buy me.  It pissed them off when I said no (I did put some items on the registry from that store).  When I told her I was doing a photo video of DH and I growing up and I needed photos of DH and family, she shoved all these other photos at me.  Like, just general family photos.  I told her that I wanted it to be about DH growing up, she still didn't get that it wasn't just any old family photos (But she was my great grandma and I loved her!  She argued over one photo that DH was nowhere to be seen in).    In a weird twist, she paid for BIL and SIL to have a teeth cleaning for their wedding.  She just couldn't understand why I didn't need to have her do that for me (I got regular checkups and I thought it was weird).  Luckily, I got off the hook a bit, as SIL was also getting married, but in her town, so SIL had thrown a lot of the work on MIL.
During my bachelorette party, MIL caused a huge fight because she failed to invite her sister.  She had been told to by my SIL and it was expected she would but then, at dinner I looked around and noticed this aunt was missing. MIL sputtered that she wasn't sure if I'd really wanted other people there.  Aunt was pissed off at me.  I spent a lot of my dinner and a lot of my evening trying to make it up to her.  To explain that I hadn't left her out.  It really, really sucked.  Aunt was crying, I was upset, and NM was no where to be found.
During the wedding though, guess what?  No NM.  She stayed on the edge.  She flit around in the background.  She did not tell me congratulations on my wedding day.  Or that I looked nice.  Or welcome to the family.  Nope.  She didn't say a word to me!

NSis-in-law-NSIL has been a rival of mine from the beginning.  Not from my side.  I don't play that kind of bullshit.  But she's been envious and pulled all kinds of one-up-manship crap on me the entire time I've known her.  It's only recently that she hasn't veiled it behind a mask of "friendship".   So, when DH and I got engaged, she was quick on our heels.  She and BIL are 2 years younger than me, 4 years younger than DH, and were not out of college, but they were racing us to the alter.  Right from the beginning, she competed with dresses and rings.   And when I announced my wedding date, she picked a weekend THREE WEEKS before that.  Thank god, we were able to get them to change their date, but it was tough for awhile.  She actually had the gaul to ask me why it bothered me so much.  She ended up having her wedding three months before ours.  Like I said, I think the drama surrounding her wedding really kept some drama away from me.  SIL had MIL and FIL pay for A LOT of their wedding.  MIL and her mother fought and argued and when DH and I showed up in town, the tension was ridiculous.  But through it all, I could feel the competition of it all.  She chose a dress very similar to mine.  She made she she had equal to or better what she thought we had.  But then, like MIL, during my wedding she disappeared.  For most of the weekend, she had a "migraine" and stayed in her hotel room.  She just wasn't there a lot.  I remember BIL approaching me and saying she was sorry but sick.  I didn't think too much of it at the time, but looking back (with the experience of three birthday parties for my kids in which she's caused a scene) I'm guessing it was a psychological migraine.

So, I had all these key players floating around.  In addition,  I was attempting to keep my step dad and father from having to interact (they don't care for each other), keep my step mother comfortable (she and NM have tension), make everyone comfortable while being forced to be together.  Some assholes ordered a bunch of nasty strippers for my husband's bachelor party which was next door to where we were (we were at a resort).  As you can imagine, this did not go over well with these men's spouses.  All kinds of drama happened (luckily not with me and DH...he spent most of the time out with me in the other room).  People told me I was too controlling over the details.  Mostly I found that people wanted control over the big details, but no one really wanted to help.  Everyone wanted to pick my dress or the flowers, but no one wanted to address envelopes or pick up tuxes or that kind of shit.  MIL wanted all these people and to add on all this expense, but didn't want to give any more money (she refused to accept I had a budget.)   People criticized me because I was hyper organized before the event.  I had charts and shit for the wedding party so I didn't have to holler or push people around or corral people in order to get the rehearsal done.  We had a lot of people, unruly people, I thought a damn diagram was brilliant! ;).  I had people complain that I didn't have an open bar and that we ran out of food early (we did, but that's because around 20 people crashed).  DH's grandmother demanded I start the food line immediately as I entered the room because "people are hungry!".   It was maybe 7 p.m?  And we had appetizers.  My DJ refused to play what I wanted and played some crazy shit at times.  NM complained she couldn't dance.  My FIL spent a chunk of the reception watching a football game in another room.  I had relatives I hadn't seen in years pushing for my time.  And I was in charge of the whole damn thing (no mother of the bride to put in charge, or a wedding planner, nope it was me).

And it all came off.  I had a lovely day.  I organized the shit (controlled the controllables, as Vanci would say) and rolled with that shit on my wedding day.  I ignored anything and anyone who wasn't fun.  I let it go and had a brilliant time.   Looking back, I'm damn proud of myself for making it through it all.  I'm proud that  DH and I have come so far in our marriage and the way we deal with that bullshit now.  It's a beautiful day because I remember him and I having fun.  And fuck the rest of 'em.  Happy Valentine's Day Folks!

Friday, February 8, 2013


My sister and I were close, well closer, as children.  I was her protector and big sister.  I looked out for her. A lot.  I was technically in charge, although I wasn't supposed to let her know that, every day after school, on holidays, and during summer break.

We spent a lot of time together, played together, and hung out.  We were close in age.  She was temperamental and had a propensity for violence when angry.  She bit, hit, and gouged skin when she pinched me.  She could rage when angry.  I often had to deal with it by myself, as calling my mother just met with "Quit your fighting!  I'm at work."  But it was more than that.   More than just sibling stuff.  She beat on me regularity and I was fearful of her.

My mother did not seem to try, very hard, to stop her from attacking me.  My father told me to fight back.  I did, twice.  The first time, I finally go angry and dragged her down the stairs and shoved her out of door, locking her out until she calmed down.  My sister LOVES to tell this story now that we are adults as proof of what an asshole I was to her.  The second time was when we were teenagers, me a senior in high school.  I actually got the best of her that time.  I don't remember her physically attacking me after that.

My mother appeased my sister a lot.  I remember a lot of things we kept from my sister when she was really little, so that she wouldn't get mad.  She got her way a lot, and mom had convinced me that just giving her her way was easier than fighting.  My mother complained a lot to my dad that she couldn't get my sister to do anything.  My dad, a depressed hard-ass, would step in and over do things in an attempt at discipline.  And then, when he would leave, my mother would rush to my sister's aide and take back every boundary he'd just set down.  The family often helped my sister with her homework (me too).  My sister will say differently, but she was catered too.

But I loved her.  And we were friends, I suppose.  We had a lot of laughs.  I protected her and looked out for her.  I shared my friends.  I comforted her.  We were always lumped together by my mother from swim lessons to dance class.  I often was enrolled in lower age levels to accommodate my sister.

When my parents divorced, I went into ultra protector mode.  I took care of her, often literally.  NM left us alone a lot on weekends, and I was "in charge" again.  Except I couldn't control a depressed, wild preteen with a propensity to drink and sneak out and rebel.  But I was held accountable.  Often, I just covered for her, as it was easier than dealing with my mother who would rage at us for wrecking her weekend.  When I left to my dad's, she followed.  She hung out with my friends, was with me a lot.  But my dad and her fought, occasionally violently as he tried to get her under control.  I was still lumped in with her.  Once, when my NM found my sister's birth control, she searched my room too.

My sister moved back with my mother when dad and she could no longer be on the same room hardly.  My sister became out of control.  She snuck out, hung with drug dealers, did drugs, ran away.  And by this time my dad had moved, so I moved back with my mother too.  My sister stole from me (or allowed other's to steal from me), was drunk or high, hardly went to school, and was a general mess.  It was horrifying.  And my mother struggled to help her.  I hated being at home, so I often stayed at my boyfriend's house.  I had a job and was in the drama club.  So, I lived out of a duffel bag.  I fed myself at night.  I got myself to school.  I went to work, to practice, and did all my homework-almost straight As).

My sister got worse and worse.  Involved in a robbery, suicides, mental ward stays.  Drugs, and beaten, and raped, and drunk.  She dropped out of school when I was at college.  On one occasion, my mother had to drive eight hours away to pick her up because she'd run away.  My sister was sick.  Very sick. She tried to commit suicide many times.  And to this day, my grandmother and my sister have conflict over a time when NM dropped my sister off with her.  Grandma claims that my sister tried to steal from her and was horrible (which is most likely true).  Grandma claims NM was less than sympathetic.  NM also dropped my sister off with me at my college to stay for the weekend.  I was terrified all weekend my sister would freak out and embarrass me.

I often hated going home from college.  It was stressful and my sister and I openly despised each other now.  She was angry at me, stole from me, or was generally miserable.  My mother was stressed and looked horrible.  I blamed my sister and was SO angry at her for what she was doing to my mother.

Somehow, my mother got my sister a GED, got her in art school, and shipped her down to my father's.  There, she created more havoc and was still out of control.  My father and step-mother fought horribly and blamed my sister (occasionally, unfairly.  Stepmom's a doozy too.  But my sister does create chaos).  It was rough there too, and I often stressed as I listened to the stories.

My sister worked at some strip club as a cocktail waitress, she had an abusive boyfriend, she still was drinking and partying to excess.  Her boyfriend was an asshole and their relationship was abusive.  She got pulled over for drunk driving.  And on and on and on.

My sister and I often didn't speak at all during this time.  We were not close, knew nothing of each other, and never spent time together.  At my wedding, I prayed that she wouldn't cause chaos.  She did, but I was able to get around it.  We knew nothing of each other and disliked each other.

NM decided at this time to plan some "girls' weekends".  Two of the worst weekends of my life.  There was drama and fights and tears and rages.  It was a war zone, often with two people feuding and the other left comforting each other.  Often my sister and I comforted each other against NM.  We knew she was horrible to us, but we couldn't put the finger on it.

As horrible as these trips were, when they were done, NSis and I talked.  We started to compare notes (all you ACoNs know where I'm going with this).  We discovered the triangulation.  The attempts by NM to blame the other sister for all her "stress".  She would tell both of us how horrible the other was.  You can imagine my surprise when I discovered my mother blamed ME for any stress.  Here, I had thought I was supportive and the good daughter and the one who was helping her with my awful sister.  But some issues over my wedding and fights (as I figured out later) over my emerging independence, had apparently made me an enemy.

For awhile, I thought NSis was getting her shit together.  The boyfriend was a jerk, but she seemed better.  Normal.  More stable.  She seemed to come up for air and catch a glimpse of reality.  She got through college.  She and I talked about things.  We seemed to be closer now that we had identified "the enemy".  It was so nice to feel I had an ally.  That someone out there understood and I wasn't crazy.  That yes, NM could be horrible.  Sure, she still called me at 3 a.m. (despite me having to work in the morning) sobbing and drunk.  There were still A LOT of crazy things that happened...lots.  But they seemed to be getting farther apart.

Things went on like this for a couple of years.  NSis and her boyfriend's relationship kept dissolving into worse layers of dysfunction and I convinced NSis to get out, move away, start over.  I really believed that if she moved, got out from under the thumb of my parents, started over with new friends, she'd grow up.

So, she moved.  And things didn't get better.  She just found the same people in a different town.  She wound up in the same situations.  Still chaos.  Still drama.  Domestic violence.  Severe accidents. Suicides. Late night drunk phone calls.  Lots of drinking.  And she became less interested in me again.  She had no time to really be supportive.  I mean, she would make token gestures, but nothing significant.   And she demanded me to be there for her.  To support her.  She clung to me as her sounding board and foundation.  But she was angry and aggressive and I could never really tell her how I felt about anything.  I still feared a huge emotional reaction from her.  Whenever she was around,  I worried constantly about pissing her off.  I also made excuses for her and defended her and explained to my parents that they didn't know how hard things were for her.  I felt for so long it was my job to protect her, and I had a hard time laying that down.

She hurt my feelings.  She dismissed me.  On occasion, she'd call me up and chew me out for something I'd done.  Or blame me again for NM being angry.  She always acted like her life, her problems to priority.

And then, last summer all shit hit the fan, and I couldn't take it anymore.  And I'm no longer talking to my sister any more.  Sometimes I have to remind myself that this latest "riff" isn't just some little fight, but a life long pattern of dysfunction between us.  That the stress and anxiety and destruction she brought to my life was there for years.  That she was destroying me.  And I was sick of dealing with it.

I realized the other day that she's been weighing on my mind.  Over the holidays, we each had a birthday, and I was holding my breathe waiting for her attacks.  She tried desperately to manipulate me, but I held out for her to deal with me in a real way.  And now that the holidays have gone, I feel like the pressure valve has been turned down.  I don't feel it so pressingly.  My parents haven't mentioned her to me.  So, I don't know what is going on with her.  And it's peaceful.  But she's there, pressing me.  Pressing that little nagging voice in my head.  I know this isn't over yet.  And I'll have to figure out what to do soon.  And until I do, she'll always be like a weight sitting over my head.    But, really, we didn't have a "real" relationship at any point in our lives, what is there for us to build one on now?